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Think you can do it all? Your dishwasher may be the biggest multitasker in the house. Despite its name, this super appliance can wash tons of things from sneakers and switch plates to keyboards and car parts.

dishwasherPhoto: Getty Images

I've been known to run a single dishwasher load with a serving platter and giant pot while 20 dinner plates wait their turn. My energy and water conserving self begrudges this lazy woman, but I just can't stand hand-washing dishes and I'll do almost anything to avoid it.

Even with my liberal dishwasher use, I've always kept it (more or less) to dishes. Imagine my surprise (and sheer joy!) to learn that there are endless other items that can go in the dishwasher. Here are some of my recent discoveries.

Any shoe that wouldn't be damaged by water should be able to go in the dishwasher. Canvas shoes, flip-flops, jelly shoes and rubber boots come out squeaky clean. Make sure you remove the liners before putting them in. Some experts warn that this is not a good method for crocks while other people swear by it. Whatever you do, make sure the heat dry is turned off.

Baseball Hat
I've washed baseball hats in the clothes washer before only to pull them out clean but misshapen. Toss that stinky cap in the dishwasher instead.

Hairbrushes, Combs and Hair Accessories

These plastic hair tools can go in the cutlery tray, but be cautioned that some poor quality barrettes might not survive the trip, and little decorative additions could come off.

Plastic Toys
Little plastic toys and action figures are prefect dishwasher candidates. S imply toss these items in the cutlery closure, plastic basket or in a mesh bag and wash away. This goes for pet toys too!

heat vent, air vent, grillGetty Images

Vent Covers and Fan Grills
Vent covers and fan grills catch dirt and dust that passes through. Instead of trying to clean inside all the grooves, remove them and run them through a dishwasher cycle.

Cup Holders
Cup holders get gross, fast. Add this to your bi-weekly cleaning routine and run stroller and car cup holders through the dishwasher.

Computer Keyboards
Microsoft and Logitech suggest a damp cloth, but still some brave geeks insist that the keyboard can in fact survive the dishwasher. This much debated tip is very much a "do at your own risk" kind of chore.

Kitchen Brushes
They might look clean after a thorough rinse, but they're not. Sanitize them in the dishwasher.

Scrub Brushes

Vegetable brushes and bottle brushes can both go in the dishwasher to clean and sanitize.

Car Parts
Various car parts including hub caps can clean and polish up nicely in the dishwasher. If you're washing smaller parts, remember that mesh bag or plastic basket.

Window Screens
If it fits in the dishwasher you'll save all that tedious detail washing and blast though dust and grime in one dishwasher cycle.

Light Fixture Covers
On a gentle setting, wash glass light fixture covers.

Switch Plates
Another plastic item that can be easily removed, cleaned and replaced.

stove knobs, dishwasherGetty Images

Stove Knobs
Our stove element knobs get greasy and grimy very quickly. I like to toss them in the cutlery tray every other week to keep them clean.

potatoes, dishwasherPhoto: AP

Yes, the kind you eat! Put potatoes on the top rack without detergent and run a quick rinse cycle. This saves you all that washing and frees you up to do the rest of your dinner prep. --It also serves as great dinner conversation! Other reports of dishwasher cooking include lasagna and fish. I'm not brave enough to try this, but if you have, we'd love to hear about it!

Refrigerator shelves

Instead of scrubbing that sticky syrup off your glass or plastic shelves, take them out and run them through the dishwasher.

Ceramic Cabinet Knobs
Take them off and toss them in the cutlery tray or mesh bag. This might be more work than necessary, but for particularly dirty knobs it might just do the trick.

Soap Dishes and Toothbrush Holders

Grimy bathroom accessories are unsightly and unsanitary. Save the soaking and scrubbing by tossing them in the dishwasher instead.

Faux Flowers
Bring, err, life back to your plastic floral arrangements! Put them in a mesh bag on the top rack and run a quick rinse cycle.

broom, dustpan, dishwasherGetty Images

Plastic Broom Heads and Dustpans
Make sure you remove any trapped dust and hair from the broom head before running it through the dishwasher, as it could clog the drain. >

pen cup, desk accessories, home office, dishwasherGetty Images

Desk Accessories
Pen Holders, sticky note trays and other plastic desk accessories can go in the dishwasher.

Makeup Brushes
These should be sanitizes every few months. Put them in the cutlery tray and they'll come out as good as new.

Trash Can Lids

Run your grungy trash can lids through the dishwasher. While some people swear by this, I'd prefer to keep garbage out of the dishwasher and suggest just spraying it off with a hose instead.


Garden tools and household tools with plastic handles can go in the dishwasher. Wash them separately if they have had any chemicals on them.

Sporting Equipment
Shin-guards, knee-pads and mouth-guards can all go on the top rack.

What unusual things have you put in the dishwasher. Let us know what worked (and what didn't!).

  • jamie

    They do smell all the time! LMAO

  • tron

    If it's good enough for the keyboard, I'll try my laptop, I'll let you know how it works out.

  • Jean

    My neighbor used to put his wire wheel covers in the dishwasher. I kept thinking of all the disgusting stuff on a road. Ewwwww.

  • sam

    Some of these ideas open up whole mess for you if you go along with whoever made up these suggestions. You put hair brushes in your dishwasher, good chance of hair building up in the lines or trap and clog your machine. Same goes with garden tools. Dirt turns to mud and will not travel through the drain pipes. It will just collect somewhere clog everything else going by it. Most don't think about where the dirty water and debris that was cleaned off of a plate goes and what happens to it. Your dishwasher is not and does not contain a garbage disposal so be careful with half of these things they tell you to put in your dishwasher.

  • Paul Sykes

    I know a lady who had to prepare 36 corn-on-the-cobs for a big dinner. She placed all in the top tray of her dishwasher and washed on pots and pans cycle for the hottests temp water. The corn came out great--of course no detergent.

  • Roberta

    One package of LEMON KOOL-AID, NON-SUGAR, thru the wash cycle, cleans and brightens your dishwasher. Wouldn't have believed it, but I tried it and it works!

  • Mikki

    I had to go back to the beginning of the article to see if it was a female or male who wrote this article. I find it hard to believe that someone wasted the time to write such an article and is too lazy to scrub potatoes under the faucet which would take less time than using the dishwasher.

    If the dishwasher was meant for anything else, I think the manufacturers would suggest a list of things when it goes on the showroom floor. I would NEVER want to eat off of dishes that had been washed in the same dishwasher as auto parts, desk accessories, or hair brushes; and besides I doubt that the warranty would be good if a person did wash such odd items in the dishwasher and it broke down for some reason.

  • Michael

    Now what would you think if the restaurants that you ate at just got done washing car parts in the washer and then washes the dishes. What the hell are you thinking, are you 10? Who approved this article? PS. Don't invite me for dinner!!!!

  • amber

    I'm a health inspector and You would be surprised what restaurants put in the dishwashers!!!

  • Geo

    I read (on a pc technical web site that deals with problems and how to fixes) and have cleaned my key board in the top rack of a dishwasher, alone, no dishes or anything else inside. What happened was, I spilled some sticky OJ on the middles of the keyboard, tried to wipe as much as I could however, some of the keys would jam and not work properly. Note: Most keyboards can be disassembled from the back with small screws and removing the backing carefully. Making sure the Pc is unplugged from any electrical power.

    I would do a WWW.Bing search for the link and carefully follow the step by step instructions before attempting this without assistance. Allow 2-3 days of drying time as the link mentioned. I no longer have the keyboard but I know it worked great after the keys were cleaned and I have upgraded PC's but it was a Dell Desktop keyboard.

    A better solution is not have any food or drink near the PC or keyboard, or purchase one of those plastic covers they sell that completely cover the keyboard and is waterproof, seen them many years ago; however, have yet to find them again.Good luck.

  • Lou

    Yup, Hub cap and car mats then outside in the sun to dry.

  • MJO

    If a restaurant were putting theses items into their dishwasher, the health department would close them down!!!

  • sharon

    I use the heat dry cycle on my machine to keep side dishes warm while I finish getting the table set.

  • SaKitty08

    I don't even use sponges anymore...I use acrylic scrubbies (known in Japanese as tawashi) and they work just as well (in some cases better!!!! than sponges, plus you can throw them in the wash!). If I I want to use an absorbent kitchen helper, I just use a cotton or microfiber cloth---As for the Clorox suggestion--I suggest lemon water (with a whole large cut lemon in a container) works just as well for disinfecting. Just change the water on a weekly basis! >^-^

  • maizydotes

    I put my outdoor gas grill parts in the dishwasher. Comes out great and beats all that scraping!

  • sarah

    one does what one can with what one has

  • Gary Mayer

    Most people don't eat the skin and don't rinse strawberries. There is no danger if you just rinse fruit and vegetables under a cold faucet.

    Incidentally, Wisconsin has bigger and better potatos than Idahao and California is America's Dairyland. Therefore, Jay Leno is a 'cheesehead.'

  • SueLT

    I've killed several keyboards accidently spilling coffee on them, but I'm gonna run them through the dishwasher. Ummm, NO!

  • cat5400

    I put my stove top cast iron grates in the dishwasher...they come out great. No mud for me though.

  • Fastturtle

    Have washed the iron grates from the top of stove, and knobs to to oven, stove burners for years - no problem. Was told that the gas burners from the stove top can be cycled too, but haven't done that.


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